Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pastors, Elders and Learning of God's Word

The king's heart is like rivers of waters, you turn it at will. This is another verse from the Psalms or is it Proverbs? I have many things planned one day but the next after some reflection it might be just wishful thinking when reality hits, it can draw one away even from one's strongest ideals. I was reading on Nehemiah's reforms this morning and how when it comes to the law he allowed the expert to take over and Ezra it was who gave the rendition of the reading of the Law on the 7th month. As we enter now into the month of Tishri, the 7th month, just a few days before the feast of Tabernacles, it does us good to reflect the way we do church. Does the ministry and learning of God's Word have central place in the life of the congregation? It was to Ezra, the heads of the clans and families came to learn the Law on the 2nd day of the 7th month (Neh 8,13). Moses had enjoined that on the 7th year in the 7th month, on the Feast of Tabernacles, Israelites are to come together in Jerusalem, the place where the Lord would choose and listen to the exposition of the Law. The problem today is this.
How much more than the Sunday sermon the ordinary Christian would learn each week from the Law, now we have the complete Scripture, the Christian Bible of the Old and New Testament. Even a 3-day Conference where there could be 7 or 8 sessions in all but usually the messages are topical, one verse here and one verse there and at the end how much do the conference participants learn from the Law? In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, they listened to the Law explained from 6am to 9am and then worshipped and confessed from 9am to 12 noon, 7 days in a row (Neh 9,3). That will add to learning, no doubt. No wonder besides the days of David, it is said that in the days of Zerubabbel and Nehemiah, the Israelites brought their portions and tithes to the Levites and people rejoiced at the ministry of the priests and Levites.

Now the pastor's position is under siege, one wrong move you are gone. People no longer rejoice in the ministry of the pastors. In fact some elders despise the work of the pastors as some large churches still refuse to engage a senior pastor because the lay elders feel they could do a better job. I am sure in some cases the elders could be right if the pastor is untrained, unlearned, a youth of his early 20s with no real life experience behind him, let alone any track record. But even for senior pastors it is not an easy life under the microscope and watchful eye of the elders who think they own the church. Perhaps we need a Nehemiah who knows his limits as a governor, almost a lay elder-chairman equivalent but yet knows when to yield to Ezra, defend the rights of the priests and Levites, making sure the people of God offer the necessary provisions to the ministers of the Temple so that they could do their job in peace, rejoicing with the rest of God's people.

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